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Citizen Steve

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Citizen Steve 1987

For his 40th birthday Steven Spielberg‘s friends made him this short film based on Citizen Kane (1941) about his life and career up to that point.

With a March of Time segment voiced by Dan Ackroyd, John Candy plays the reporter who is assigned the task of uncovering the famed director.

Keep a look out for previous Spielberg collaborators such as Dennis Weaver (Duel), Allen Daviau (E.T.), Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale (1941) and Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall (longtime producers).

You wonder how this stuff ends up online but I’m glad it did.

> Steven Spielberg at the IMDb
> More on Citizen Kane at Wikipedia

Written by Ambrose Heron

June 18th, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Paul Newman’s Philanthropy

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Paul Newman was born on this day in 1925 and although he passed away in 2008, his remarkable philanthropic activities live on.

Think for just a minute about a major Hollywood actor who starts up a successful food business and then gives all the profits to a charitable foundation.

It is almost as unlikely as an actress inventing the technology later used for wi-fi.

But it actually happened.

To date, Newman and Newman’s Own Foundation have donated more than $300 million to thousands of charities around the world.

This was in addition to being one of the biggest movie stars on the planet.

Paul Newman at the IMDb
> More on Paul Newman’s life at Wikipedia
Newman’s Own Foundation
> The Hole in the Wall Gang (also on Twitter and YouTube)

Written by Ambrose Heron

January 26th, 2012 at 10:00 pm

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Jaws Vertigoed

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Indiewire have recently been running a mash-up contest in light of the recent story about The Artist using music from Vertigo.

If you missed the story, Kim Novak recently took out an ad in Variety to complain about the use of some of Bernard Herrmann’s score in Michel Hazanavicius’s tribute to the silent era.

Press Play then decided to see how it sounded against other film sequences, so they staged a contest called ‘Vertigoed’ with the following rules:

  1. Take the same Herrmann cue — “Scene D’Amour,” used in this memorable moment from Vertigo — and match it with a clip from any film. (You can nick the three-minute section from one of Kevin’s mash-ups if it makes things easier.) Is there any clip, no matter how silly, nonsensical, goofy or foul, that the score to Vertigo can’t ennoble? Let’s find out!
  2. Although you can use any portion of “Scene D’Amour” as your soundtrack, the movie clip that you pair it with cannot have ANY edits; it must play straight through over the Herrmann music. This is an exercise in juxtaposition and timing. If you slice and dice the film clip to make things “work,” it’s cheating. MONTAGES WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.
  3. Upload the result to YouTube, Vimeo, blipTV or wherever, email the link to [email protected] along with your name, and we’ll add your mash-up to this Index page.

Given that they have recently been running an excellent video series on Steven Spielberg, the sequence that immediately popped into my head was this one from Jaws (1975).

Mainly because of the use of the “zoom dolly” shot that Hitchcock made famous on Vertigo but also because there are some interesting connections between the two directors.

Both made significant films at Universal and Hitchcock was also a major shareholder of the studio as Jaws smashed box office records.

Its financial success would have made both men a lot of money, but the two were destined never to meet.

In fact, Spielberg was twice escorted off the set of Hitchcock movies on the Universal lot.

According to a book by John Baxter, as a young man he was thrown off the set of Torn Curtain (1966) and years later an assistant director asked him to leave whilst Hitch was shooting Family Plot (1976):

There’s probably a reason that ‘Scene d’Amour’ has been used so often as a temp track (i.e. a piece of temporary music used before the composer settles on a final score), which is that it lends a haunting beauty to almost any image.

With that in mind here is the scene from Jaws set to Herrmann’s music:

The music accentuates the tragedy of a mother losing her son, whilst with Williams’ score there was a sense of impending dread and brilliantly orchestrated horror.

Note also how the scene in the original version is free of music until the shark appears.

Take a look at the entries over on the Press Play site, which sets the track to various films including Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom MenaceRockyThe Great Dictator and They Live.

> Buy Scene D’Amour by Bernard Herrmann from the Vertigo soundtrack
> Press Play Vertigoed Contest and their Video Series on Spielberg
Buy Jaws on DVD
Buy Vertigo on DVD

Written by Ambrose Heron

January 15th, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Posted in Interesting,Random

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Vue West End …Then and Now

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What was showing at cinemas in London’s West End back in 1976?

This year has already seen a record-breaking 27 sequels and a depressing number of remakes.

Last month I took a picture of the Vue West End in Leicester Square just to remind myself that we really did live in a time when the three main attractions at one of the capital’s most prestigious cinemas were The Inbetweeners Movie, The Smurfs and Final Destination 5.

I came across a photo on Flickr of the same cinema in 1976 which revealed that at one point it was showing The Outlaw Josey Wales, All The President’s Men, Barry Lyndon and St. Ives.

The first three are classics and …St Ives?

Well, three out of four isn’t bad.

[Photo: Flickr user Affendaddy]

> More on Vue at Wikipedia
> Flickr group of Cinema Architecture

Written by Ambrose Heron

October 5th, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Posted in Random

NASA Endeavor Split Screen Mashup

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A NASA video of Space Shuttle Endeavor‘s last launch has been re-cut so we can see all four camera angles simultaneously.

The original video was shot on multiple cameras fixed to the solid rocket boosters, but a Vimeo user (Northern Lights) has re-arranged the footage so we can see it side-by-side.

Set to the music of Ulf Lohmann from the Because Before album, the end result is pretty spectacular.

(For the full effect, be sure expand the video to full screen)

> Original NASA video of Endeavor
> Northern Lights on Vimeo
> Space Shuttle Endeavor at Wikipedia

Written by Ambrose Heron

June 14th, 2011 at 6:09 am

Posted in Interesting,Random

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One Day filmed at the Rio Cinema?

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The latest trailer for One Day would suggest that one scene was shot outside the Rio Cinema in Dalston.

First, take a look at the new trailer:

Compare the shot at 0.41 with a photo of the East London cinema:

Through the magic of Photoshop, see how they seamlessly blend in to one another:

The upcoming film is adapted from the David Nicholls novel and revisits the lives of Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) over a twenty year period.

Directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education), it opens on August 19th in the US and a week later in the UK.

> Official site
> One Day at the IMDb
> Ric Cinema in Dalston

Written by Ambrose Heron

May 30th, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Posted in Random,Trailers

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Old UK Cinemas

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Flickr user dusashenka has created a rich photo archive of UK cinemas.

There are a bewildering number of images depicting cinemas over the course of several decades.

This gallery shows what the Odeon Leicester Square was like when it was screened The Prisoner of Zenda (1938), Aliens (1986) and Wall Street (1987).

You can also check out the evolution of the Phoenix in East Finchley, as it showed Don’t Look Now (1974) and The City of Lost Children (1995).

There is an incredible set of photos of regional cinemas including the ABC Horsham (1967), Odeon Scarborough (1936) and the Rex Berkhamstead (1988).

> Check out the full gallery here
> Cinemas in the UK

Written by Ambrose Heron

April 7th, 2011 at 10:07 pm

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The Heart Specialist

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How did a film over 5 years old eventually get a theatrical release back in January of this year?

And why do the IMDb list it under the title Ways of the Flesh?

The Heart Specialist is an independent comedy that was reportedly completed in 2006, about a group of young medical residents at a Florida hospital starring Wood Harris, Brian White and Zoe Saldana.

But a five year wait seems excessive and places this firmly in the realm of Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret (although that long-delayed film has more pedigree behind the camera).

It opened in the US in January and the verdict from the trades was pretty brutal.

Joe Leydon of Variety said:

“The Heart Specialist” is DOA. A ploddingly paced and tonally dissonant mix of broadly played sitcom-style humor and shameless heartstring-yanking, this long-shelved indie has been dropped into a limited theatrical run much like a terminally ill patient might be checked into a hospice. After its inevitable B.O. flatline, expect a quick transfer to Redbox kiosks.

Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter was also less than enthusiastic:

Filmed in 2006 but only now receiving a limited theatrical release no doubt thanks to the presence of rising star Zoe Saldana (Avatar), the African-American, medical-themed The Heart Specialist plays like a poorly written episode of Gray’s Anatomy. This awkward, amateurish blend of comedy and melodrama will need life support stat to prevent it from immediately disappearing from theaters.

But this begs the question as to why it got a theatrical release at all. Did investors in the film have a legal clause demanding a theatrical release?

According to Box Office Mojo it has so far grossed $1,103,037.

> The Heart Specialist at the IMDb
> LA Times on the troubled production of Margaret

Written by Ambrose Heron

April 6th, 2011 at 12:13 am

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Charlie Sheen Web Show

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Charlie Sheen has now launched his own show on the internet called Sheen’s Korner.

After a week of manic and erratic interviews which have seen the actor’s profile skyrocket, he has now taken to the web, racking up nearly two million Twitter followers in a week and launching his own web show called Sheen’s Korner.

It mainly consists of Sheen sitting around with his friends, looking into the wrong camera and rambling about things.

Live Broadcast by Ustream.TV

This whole episode is playing out like a modern day version of Howard Beale’s meltdown in Network (1976).

Just substitute ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore’ with ‘winning’.

> Charlie Sheen at Wikipedia
> Network at the IMDb

Written by Ambrose Heron

March 6th, 2011 at 6:37 pm

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The Film School Thesis Statement Generator

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The Film School Thesis Generator is a fairly accurate spoof of the academic jargon used to describe the art of cinema.

Created by designer and writer Mike Lacher, it is worth typing in a few films to try it out.

The new Justin Bieber movie Never Say Never?

“Through the use of subversive semiotics, Never Say Never echoes the rise of currency and the loss of utopia”

What about the dire Stallone cop movie Cobra (1986)?

“Through the collapsing of identity and whiteness, Cobra hybridizes the rise of currency and the loss of utopia”

The Michael Winner clunker Bullseye! (1990)

“Through the fluid identification of the viewer, Bullseye asks telling questions of Bergman-esque assertions of the nature of humanity”

All time box office champ Avatar (2009)?

“Through the deliberate suppression of colors meant to signify passion, Avatar dichotomizes the primacy of scholarship in the Abrahamic religions.”

What about Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010)?

“Through the conflicting duality of progress and humanity, Inception asks telling questions of established notions of the star system”

And Citizen Kane (1941)?:

“The strategic use of narrative ellipses in Citizen Kane calls into question pre-Oedipal anxieties”

For more fun just head over to the site by clicking here.

> IndieWire interview with creator Mike Lacher
> The Film School Thesis Generator

Written by Ambrose Heron

February 11th, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Posted in Amusing,Random